Portland, OR – All members of the Portland Police Bureau’s (PPB) Rapid Response Team (RRT) unanimously voted to resign from the team on Wednesday, according to the department.
As a result, the agency will no long have an RRT, which has been the primary unit handling the violent uprisings that have erupted on a regular basis in downtown Portland for more than a year now.
“The Rapid Response Team is an all-hazard incident response team that has received advanced specialized training to respond to incidents requiring higher levels of technical expertise including public order policing, natural or man-made disasters,” the PPB said in a press release. “The primary role has been to provide public safety at crowd events when there was a threat of harm to the community.”
The team responded to over 100 riots and demonstrations last year alone, KPTV reported.
The approximately 50 officers who volunteer for the RRT have all received advanced training related to crowd control and management, “including crowd psychology and behavior, team formations and movements, the use of enhanced personal protective equipment, use of force, de-escalation, and arrests,” the PPB said.
The now-former team members are all sworn members of the PPB and will continue serving in their regular assignments, according to the press release.
The unanimous vote came one day after Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt announced the indictment of PPB Officer Corey Budworth, who was one of the RRT’s voluntary members, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.
An internal investigation determined Officer Budworth carried out his job within the scope of the law and didn’t violate any department rules or policies, according to KXL.
But Schmidt has alleged Officer Budworth committed fourth-degree misdemeanor assault for using his baton to keep a violent mob at bay during a riot on Aug. 18, 2020, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.
That same night, Antifa militants hurled a Molotov cocktail into the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) headquarters, according to The Post Millennial.
Protester Teri Jacobs was hit in the head with the baton during the melee and later sued the city, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.
She received a $50,000 payout in February.
Jacobs’ attorney, Juan Chavez, released a statement on Tuesday claiming his client “was brutally beaten in the head, neck, back, and face with a baton by Corey Budworth at a protest,” Oregon Public Broadcasting reported. “Officers nearby did not intervene to stop him.”
“One indictment, while undoubtedly significant and a wakeup call to Portland Police officers, will not fix problems with policing in our city,” Chavez declared.
Schmidt released a statement after Officer Budworth’s indictment, accusing the veteran officer of excessive force.
“In this case, we allege that no legal justification existed for Officer Budworth’s deployment of force, and that the deployment of force was legally excessive under the circumstances,” the prosecutor declared, according to The Post Millennial. “My office will continue to do everything we can to ensure justice is done without error or delay and that we make sure our work and practices are rooted in fairness and equity.”
The Portland Police Association (PPA), which has been a constant target for rioters who have repeatedly set its headquarters on fire over the past year, released a statement denouncing the charges against Officer Budworth, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.
The PPA claimed that Jacobs was one of many rioters who were engaging in criminal activity that particular night.
“Unfortunately, this decorated public servant has been caught in the crossfire of agenda-driven city leaders and a politicized criminal justice system,” the PPA said, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.
Officer Budworth has been serving the PPB since July of 2015.
Another Portland “protester” filed a lawsuit against PPB RRT Detective Erik Kammerer on Wednesday, claiming the detective hit him with a baton while he was trying to talk to officers during a demonstration, KATU reported.
One PPB officer told The Post Millennial that the disbandment of the RRT has left officers wondering how city officials plan to handle the violent uprisings that have been plaguing Portland for over a year.
“Now that the riot team is no more, we have no clue what’s going to happen. We don’t have enough patrol officers to be pulled from the road to handle huge crowds,” the officer said. “We are only backups with no gear like the riot team has.”
Meanwhile, Schmidt has made it a priority to reject a staggering 80 percent of the riot-linked cases that have been referred to his office since May 29, 2020, according to his “Mass Demonstration/Protest Case Dashboard.”
Out of the 1,108 cases that have been referred to his office since that date, charges have been filed in just 194 instances.
The remaining 891 were rejected, with 704 of those being dismissed in the “interest of justice,” according to the dashboard.
According to the website, prosecutors have chosen “not to proceed with criminal charges” in those cases “based on compelling factors or circumstances,” including “the nature of the crime, the prior record of the defendant…and the impact on the public interest of a dismissal.”
Prosecutors must also consider “the punishment already suffered by the defendant,” and “the purpose and effect of further punishment,” when deciding whether or not to pursue charges, as well as “any prejudice resulting to the defendant by the passage of time [or] current office policy,” according to district attorney’s office.
Just 28 cases were pending as of June 11.